Power Outage

Power Outage

The NY power outage reminds me of a reverse situation in the UK when there was a tanker strike and we couldn t get fuel/gas.

I guess there is a case for both methods of driving a car or have 2 different cars.....

Slindell | 30/10/2012

Remember, no power means no gas. There is nothing to run the petrol station pumps.

Sudre_ | 30/10/2012

My friend that is sitting in her house with no power in Jersey has no plans to go out in the weather anyway. If she did it certainly would not be for a 300 mile trip.

GoTeslaChicago | 30/10/2012

In the future it might be possible to power the house for several days from a 85kwh Model S. Nissan already has a set up available in Japan that does that with the Leaf.

Docrob | 30/10/2012

At the very least Tesla should brand an OEM car fridge and sell it as an option, the cars battery could keep it going for weeks during an outage and food storage is one of the biggest issues during a prolonged blackout. Eventually though I'm sure vehicle2house systems will become available allowing you to run your car and house as an islanded grid during an outage. Just think of the marketing power of having the neighbours across the street having working, lights fridges hot water etc whilst everyone else waits for power to be restored.

reitmanr | 30/10/2012

Hmmm. How could this work with a solar powered home on the grid? With no grid, the solar stops. Somehow we need to fake the system? Power a separate inverter from the Mod S when the grid is down? And be careful when the grid returns? Must be a workable solution here.

GoTeslaChicago | 30/10/2012


Were you responding to my post? If so, the same way as a house powered by a back-up generator. When power is off a master switch is thrown, disconnecting the house from the grid, and the connecting it to the generator, or in our case to the Tesla Model S battery, with an appropriate inverter thrown in.

sbern18 | 30/10/2012

All of the above sounds nice in theory. I've been going through hell here in n.j. the last 2 days. Tracking the storm prior to arrival, charging at the right time, and not having to travel too far is all that matters during an outtage. And of course the duration, they're talking about a week now with 75% of jersey out, serious problem. And I'm an enthusiastic reservation holder.

iholtzman | 30/10/2012

I live in the Chicago area. Six weeks ago ago I installed a 20kW natural gas whole house generator so I could charge my Tesla even if we lose power! In a way my Tesla will be able to run on electric or natural gas.

bfranks273 | 30/10/2012


cablechewer | 30/10/2012

reitmanr you can set up a grid-tied system with battery backup. I don't know exactly what the wiring diagram looks like, but there are a number of people that do this.

I doubt you could ever use a car as the primary battery as it would have to be connected whenever you are generating power. If it wasn't connected then everything would be wasted on your dump load or fed into the grid.

dborn | 30/10/2012

@cablechewer. Here you go.

Peter Spirgel | 31/10/2012

First, I hope you and your family are safe! I too am a N.J. reservation holder (Cherry Hill) with a shore home in Ventnor. I was thinking the same thing as you - namely, power goes out in an emergency and is not restored for over 7 days. Many in our state and surrounding states are facing this dilemma right now. I see it this way after some thought.
1) for most of us, Model S will not be our only car. My wife will still have her ICE if we really need to get somewhere far away.
2) each day, I start with a full charge. You can't say the same with a ICE. I'm assuming that at any given time, I will have at least (probably more) range with my Model S available that my ICE. if the power is out for a prolonged period of time, I won't be able to get my ICE filled up. You need electricity to run the pumps. Gas stations also need fuel trucks to be able to get to them - something less likely in catastrophic emergencies. Accordingly, if I need to flee in my car 250 miles ( my assumed range on a full charge) should hopefully be enough or ill rely on my other car.
3) if I'm sheltering in place without electricity for over a week, I doubt very much I'll need to drive more that 250 miles during that period.

Bottom line - we all have to get used to a new continuum and kick our addiction to petroleum based vehicles and the infrastructure that has been created to support this addiction! Slowly but surely, charging locations are popping up all around our region. As electric vehicles hit the road, this will accelerate. My firm now has two charging stations in its parking lot! Soon there will be thousands of Tesla owners throughout the US. I' m sure after getting to know many through reading this forum, they would help any other fellow Tesla owners in a pinch if an emergency charge was needed. For example, if we ever drive to Germany, I bet Volker will give us a charge!

Stay dry

David M. | 31/10/2012

I like the idea of a natural gas generator. Mainly to keep the refrigerator and AC running during a prolonged power outage.

Electric Machete | 31/10/2012

A portable generator should also be able to charge the batteries in the Model S. Mine has a 220v slot that I assume was meant for a refrigerator. I assume I can just purchase the appropriate adapter.

Brian H | 31/10/2012

Remember you could extend that range considerably by driving slower; you'd max out at about 35kph if you could stand it! You might make 400 miles at that speed. Of course, it would take you about 20 hours!

mrspaghetti | 31/10/2012

To Brian H's point:

And in a prolonged power outage, remember that there are always some places that do have power within a reasonable distance from wherever you are (unless we're talking about the Zombie apocalypse). My mom & Dad, for example, went over to my brother's house today to charge up their portable electronics where there's power. You could do the same with your Model S.

Mel. | 31/10/2012

The new generators are great. Less expensive, automatic and can run on propane.

Equest | 01/11/2012

Well...I am in NJ and lost power. I have been using a power inverter off of the cig lighter outlet on my tesla model S to charge all of our electronics. The power inverter that I am using is pretty small. Does anyone know what the largest power inverter (in amps) that could be used without blowing the circuit and/or wiring?

We were one week away from having our natural gas 17KW generator installed:-(

BTW-This situation is winning my wife over on the purchase:-)

Peter Spirgel | 01/11/2012

I would also point out to those worried about owning an electric car when there is a prolonged power outage that the stories coming out of NY and NJ in the wake of hurricane Sandy illustrate the difficulty of finding GAS for your car. Specifically, there are gas lines at the stations that are open and a regional shortage of fuel. In fact, in many of the hardest hit areas, it would be easier to charge your Tesla than to fill your ICE up!

Can you elaborate on how you used the inverter and where you purchase one? Thanks!

Sudre_ | 01/11/2012

Equest, most places I have read say the largest is a 180 watt 120 volt inverter. Typically the lighter socket is fused at 15 to 20 amps.

My friends in NJ just got their power back on.

Sudre_ | 01/11/2012

submitted that a little too soon.
My friends in NJ got their power back on today. If they had a Model S they would have done fine and would not be in line at gas stations that are running out of gas.

Rod and Barbara | 01/11/2012

@ Equest - Model S owners manual says the 12V power socket is suitable for accessories requiring up to 15A or a maximum of 180 watts.

stevenmaifert | 01/11/2012 Not a whole house solution, but will keep the lights on and the fridge cold for a few days. Will even take a charge from your solar panels with the grid down.

andex23 | 01/11/2012

Just so I understand. They sell a 375w inverter for $50 that plugs into your lighter socket. Couldn't I just run an extension cord from my car and plug in the most important things in my house (i.e. fridge)? Assuming I don't max out on the cars fuse or the inverter I could run some critical items for a LONG time. I don't know what a fridge peaks at when turning on but the inverter allows for a 600W peak load.

Also, could you upgrade the fuse in the model S to allow for more power or are we voiding the warranty at that point?

Tesla should use this opportunity to educate people on how the car could help them in crisis.

mrspaghetti | 01/11/2012


could you upgrade the fuse in the model S to allow for more power or are we voiding the warranty at that point?

Fuses exist to keep the amperage in the circuit below the damage threshold for all the other elements in the circuit. So no, you can't just replace the fuse with one rated for higher amperage - unless you want to damage your car, start a fire and/or injure someone. I'm sure it would also void your warranty, and might even jeopardize your ability to be reimbursed by insurance.

DouglasR | 01/11/2012

Regarding a natural gas generator, it might work ok in a storm, but where I live (on a hill in Seattle), an earthquake is the disaster we think about most. In an earthquake, natural gas delivery has a good chance of being disrupted.

Gator | 01/11/2012

I like the SolarCity battery solution mentioned above:

I have solar panels on my roof. Almost a solution, but the problem is they are a grid-tie system. Which means, when the gird goes down, the Solar inverters shut down. This is to code so the downed grid is not fed by the solar PV system in the even the line men are working on the lines.

Thanks for the info.

Cycle Solutions

Sudre_ | 01/11/2012

I own a 300+ watt inverter. Somewhere in the fine print it says you can only use 180 watts thru the lighter. To use the full 300-600 watts you have to wire it directly to a battery. These cheap inverters are not true sign wave inverters so not everything will work off them.

EdG | 07/11/2012

Small inverters (to charge a small laptop, maximum) can be connected via the cigarette lighter 12V connection. To do more, you have to connect larger inverters directly to the battery.

Guys who run food trucks have inverters over 1000 watts and hook up multiple microwave ovens to them.

RDoc | 07/11/2012

A lot of emergency generators produce pretty dirty power, not exactly 60 Hz and with lots of harmonics which tend to upset things like UPS's. I don't know if the Tesla chargers are happy with such power. It would be very interesting if someone would try charging an S with such a generator.

The Honda and Yamaha inverter generators produce very clean power, but are both small and expensive so are limited as emergency generators. The big natural gas generators are also pretty good, but take up a lot of room and are quite expensive.